Kukla's Korner

Kukla's Korner Hockey

A Deeper Look At Ryan Johansen

from Jonathan Willis of Sportsnet,

It seems that at least once per summer, a contract negotiation between an emerging young star and his NHL teams goes all pear-shaped. This year, the distinction belongs to Columbus Blue Jackets pivot Ryan Johansen, the 2010 fourth-overall pick who broke through in 2013-14 after two disappointing professional seasons.

In hindsight, the impasse seems predictable, simply because of the dichotomy between what Johansen accomplished last season and what he had done previously as a pro. It’s well worth remembering that as recently as May 2013 the centre was a healthy scratch—and not for the Jackets, but for their AHL affiliate, a team fighting for its playoff life. “It’s not something I enjoyed doing or wanted to do,” Springfield Falcons coach Brad Larsen told the Columbus Dispatch at the time. “But, to be honest with you, it wasn’t all that hard of a decision. We talked after Game 2, and I tried to ramp him up. In Game 3, we just felt like he wasn’t all there, like he wasn’t invested 100 percent.”

With that kind of history, it is entirely understandable that the Blue Jackets would look at Johansen’s 2013-14 performance with some skepticism, asking themselves if it’s really representative of that player’s future performance. Johansen’s camp understandably wants the player to get paid for what was an exceptional year. He led the team’s forward group in minutes played and was second only to Brandon Dubinsky (who regularly kills penalties) in minutes per game. He also scored 33 goals; one more would have had him in the NHL’s top 10.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Columbus Blue Jackets, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: ryan+johansen


Hank1974's avatar

I think this author is trying to make something out of nothing.
Might have been a slow week for hockey news?

Let’s tackle some of his doubts;
1. He was benched as early as 2013.
- Lots of young players take some time to ‘get it’.
Does anyone remember how brutal Joe Thornton was in his first year?
Maybe that benching woke him up to what kind of sacrifices are needed.
Remember, Gary Roberts at one time admitted he couldn’t do one pull-up and was seen as a lazy player.

2. His shooting percentage was double the NHL’s average ‘overnight’.
- That’s AVERAGE. There are over 700 NHL players. Not all of them are all-stars.
Looking at last years stats leaders, you can see that every player in the top 10 didn’t have a Shooting% less than 10%.
The average shooting % of the top 10 is 13.9%. Guess what Johansen’s percentage was? 13.9%.

3. He never scored more than 25 goals before his draft year.
- And what did he score the next year? 40.
He also scored 17 in 40 games in his first AHL season. Prorated over an entire AHL season, that’s 35 goals.
There are many cases where a player scored more as a pro than in Junior.
Just look at Yzerman; He never scored 50 goals or 100 points in the OHL, but did that 6x as a Pro.

Instead of digging for negative’s to Johansen’s break-out year, I think there were many signs showing that he’s about to explode.
For instance, pointing out that out of his 33 goals, 25 were during even-strength. That’s a terrific number.
It’s so hard to score 5-on-5 and yet Ryan was able to do so with regularity. And on a somewhat average team. Who were his wingers? Exactly.
Or how about how Johansen’s goal scoring has increased at every level he’s played at by the 2nd or 3rd year.
WHL: 25>40
AHL: 17 in 41 games.
NHL: 9>33 (in 2 ‘full’ seasons).

Looking at those numbers, including his shooting percentage rocketing past the average of 8% to where the top goal scorers are, I’d say that the Johansen is on the cusp of becoming a bonafide scoring star.

Posted by Hank1974 on 08/28/14 at 01:35 PM ET


Hard to disagree hank, but he may also be on the cusp of becoming an over paid underachiever instead.  He wouldn’t be the first guy who got paid for a year of awesomeness just to turn out not to care.  The fact that he didn’t even try, as recently as two years ago, makes me have more sympathy for columbus than this kid.  Not that I feel a lot of sympathy for anything in Columbus.

Posted by teldar on 08/28/14 at 02:28 PM ET

Hank1974's avatar

That could very well be the case teldar. Nobody without a flux capacitor will know for sure.
I just look at his total body of work (even though it’s a short period of time) and it looks like he always adjusts and thrives by year 2.

I look at it this way.
He made the jump to the NHL right out of junior, and then gets sent to the AHL in year 2.
Some kids, especially very young ones like Ryan, take it hard and it breaks their heart. They have a hard time getting over that.

I think if there were signs that he lacked heart, they would have reared their ugly head during this past postseason.
Instead, he put up 6 points in 6 playoff games. I watched a lot of that series and he didn’t look disengaged or lacked determination.

I think this kid is going to be a very good player.
And considering the Jackets have had to trade away every star player they ever had over the past 3 years (Carter, Nash, Gaborik) and their issues with poor attendance, I’d say not having Johansen in camp is a good way to poop on your ever depleting fan base even more.

Posted by Hank1974 on 08/28/14 at 02:37 PM ET

alwaysaurie's avatar

I agree with all of your points, Hank1974… (except he wasn’t sent to the AHL in year 2… there was no NHL because of the lockout, once the NHL returned he was playing for the CBJ)

I still wouldn’t pay him $7m/1-year. (That’s what I hear is on the table, how true that is I’ve no clue.)

$5.3m/2-years would seem to be acceptable, I’d go that high… maybe a little bit higher. But you can’t build a team without some sort of reasonable salary structure and giving him $7m this summer only to see him come back next summer asking for $10m-$12m when he scores 75pts isn’t the way to go about things.

That being said, offering him $3.5m/2-years is downright stupid. (That’s what I hear is on the table, how true that is I’ve no clue.)

I hope to see him signed sooner rather than later, but the front office for the CBJ hasn’t impressed me so far with their intelligence.

Posted by alwaysaurie on 08/31/14 at 12:55 AM ET

Hank1974's avatar

alwaysaurie, absolutely!

I think R.J. is nuts for asking that kind of money. I think he should get the Subban bridge contract.

Hopefully CBJ and RJ can reach a deal. History shows that players who miss T.C. always struggle that year.
That’s the last thing the Jackets need.

Posted by Hank1974 on 08/31/14 at 05:40 AM ET

Add a Comment

Please limit embedded image or media size to 575 pixels wide.

Add your own avatar by joining Kukla's Korner, or logging in and uploading one in your member control panel.

Captchas bug you? Join KK or log in and you won't have to bother.


Notify me of follow-up comments?


Most Recent Blog Posts

About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com


Recommended Sportsbook